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Day by day, the mass shootings slip by, absorbed by the river of American life. Over 250 slaughters this year, hundreds dead, many hundreds more sentenced to a life compromised by injuries. Thousands of friends and family suddenly find a yawning absence in their lives. El Paso, too, will fade, overshadowed by the ongoing carnage and daily living. But, it seizes my attention more than most because it was clearly targeted at Latinos and so clearly fed by the hate speech of the president. Again, spineless politicians will fail to stand up to their leader or the National Rifle Association, bringing the community closer to a vortex of chaos.

Our democracy is failing. My heart cries out to the asylum seeker at the border, to the people consumed by hatred, and to the citizens who fought and died for civil rights and tolerance. I appeal to a history of Americans trying to hold true to the founders' inspiring words of equality, high ideals crafted to turn the tide of history away from the bitter pill of slavery in their midst. We are failing their vision.

Never much of a patriot, I now find a love for this nation of immigrants, discovering loyalty only as we slip away from each other. I despair that we will only come to know the meaning and spirit of America after it has lost its center, splintered into millions of pieces vying against each other.

Jeff Falen

Lebanon (Aug. 5)

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